Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Values and Corporate Social Initiative: An Approach through Schwartz Theory

Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Values and Corporate Social Initiative: An Approach through Schwartz Theory

Article excerpt


The success of corporate social initiatives of firms depends largely on the perception of these have from the outside. This perception is liked directly to the values that have developed individuals in the areas where they play their academic or occupational activities. In fact, people in different occupations and education environment develop different value system which influences their behavior and choices. The University environment in Social Sciences studies offered a value opportunity to explore the value structure and how this structure influences the attitudes (patterns/behavior) towards the social initiatives of a company. The current study has pursued to aims. First, basing on existing research, the current study explores whether Schwartz's value theory is applicable to the Spanish Social Science students at the undergraduate level. Second, the research intend to bring new knowledge to the relationship between basic values and those patterns which determine the perception of the Spanish Social Science students under a social initiative carried out by a company. The quantitative data consisted of 1060 university students by using a structured self-completion questionnaire.

Keywords: Values, Schwartz's Theory; Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); Higher Education; Social Sciences.


In the academic literature there is no universal definition of the concept of values (Lan et al., 2008). So, among the most popular/well-known/first one, it is possible to find the Rokeach's notion (1973), who defined value as an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct (instrumental values) or end-state of existence (terminal values) is personally or socially preferable to its opposite. Nerveless, over the last decade, Schwartz's value theory has been the most widely accepted view (Siltaoja, 2006).

Schwartz and Bardi (2001) defined values as desirable, trans-situational goals, varying in importance, that serve as guiding principles in people's lives. Schwartz indentified 56 value items that can be grouped into ten value types, which can be further clustered into four value orientations: 1) self-transcendence (the altruistic value types of universalism and benevolence), 2) self-enhancement (egoistic values focused on personal power and achievement), 3) openness (including the value types of self-direction, hedonism and stimulation), and 4) conservation (including the tradition, conformity and security value types) (Schwartz, 1992, 1994).

In sociology, values are regarded as social phenomena and factors explaining human action (Wang and Juslin, 2012).

Values operate at the level of individuals, institutions, and entire societies (Hofstede, 1980). Values are also important on the level of organisations. At the organisational level, value priorities guide goal setting, allocation of resources, and formulation of new policies (Rokeach, 1979). According to Argandoña (2003), values are part of companies' distinctive competencies and therefore shape their long-term success.

As Barth (1993) pointed out, the relationship among values, attitudes, and behaviour is not a straightforward one. Although they are related, these relations are often weak (e.g., Kristiansen and Hotte, 1996). Strong situational forces interact with values in directing behaviour (Feather, 1996). In addition, behaviours and attitudes are guided by trade-offs among competing values (Tetlock, 1986). However small, the consequences of values tell us something important about ourselves as human beings and are thus significant and worthy of investigation (Koivula, 2008).

Few studies have been conducted on the effect of values on the perception of Corporative Social Responsible in different high educational context (González Rodríguez et al., 2013a, 2013b) and workplace (Koivula, 2008). Moreover a few of these studies have analysed the relation between human values and the social dimension of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). …

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